The ﬂu, more properly called inﬂuenza, is an acute viral infection of the upper res- piratory tract. Many people have difﬁculty distinguishing between the ﬂu and the com- mon cold, and, indeed, many of the symptoms are the same. Colds, however, tend to come on slowly and produce symptoms restricted to the chest, the neck, and the head; in contrast, the ﬂu attacks swiftly and is accompanied by body-wide symptoms, includ- ing fever, aches, and general fatigue. While most people recover from colds within a few days, it may take weeks before the lingering fatigue and the cough of a ﬂu com- pletely disappear.
The three classiﬁcations of the inﬂuenza virus are A, B, and C. The most common virus is inﬂuenza A. It often occurs in epidemics during the late fall or the early win- ter. The highest incidence of the ﬂu is in schoolchildren. It generally takes forty-eight hours after initial exposure for symptoms to begin occurring. Chills, a fever, a headache, and muscular aches and pains are the most common initial symptoms fol- lowed by a severe cough. Acute symptoms usually subside in two to three days. Peo- ple who are most at risk for serious complications include those with chronic pulmonary or heart disease.
The inﬂuenza viruses mutate constantly, changing their structure just enough so that it is more difﬁcult to build up immunity to them. These viruses are also highly conta- gious. They are communicated via coughs and sneezes, which propel infected droplets
into the air and onto surfaces. Most communities see an outbreak of at least one ﬂu virus every winter; every two to three years, the ﬂu reaches epidemic proportions.
As with the common cold, there is no conventional cure for the ﬂu. However, spe- ciﬁc natural therapies described in this section have the potential to abort a ﬂu in its early stages. The wisest course of action is to keep your immune system strong and healthy during the winter months, thereby reducing the virus’s ability to take hold in your body. Eat well, exercise, rest, and follow the other general recommendations for health outlined in Part Two.
A note of caution: For most of us, a bout with the ﬂu is highly unpleasant but tem- porary. However, it can sometimes develop into pneumonia, a serious disease that may be fatal: In people over sixty-ﬁve, this ﬂu-related pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death. If you are in this age group, or if you have a compromised immune system or a chronic chest condition (such as asthma, emphysema, or cardiovascular disease), see a doctor immediately if you catch the flu. Very young children should also receive medical care right away. No matter what your age or physical condition, if a case of the ﬂu leads to difﬁculty breathing or tightness in the chest, call your doctor.
Most people with the ﬂu experience the following symptoms:
• Aches in the muscles and joints
• Fatigue and weakness
• Sore throat
• Dry cough
The following symptoms may also accompany the ﬂu:
• Sneezing and runny nose
• Nausea and vomiting
• Swollen glands in the neck
The following tests help assess possible reasons for reoccurring inﬂuenza infections:
Immune system imbalance or disease—blood
Hormone testing (especially for thyroid, DHEA, cortisol)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially vitamins C and B12, iron, and
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Anemia—blood test (CBC, iron, ferritin, % saturation)
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
• If overwork, stress, poor diet, or another illness has run down your immune system, you are much
more likely to catch the ﬂu during a community outbreak.
• Similar to the common cold, the ﬂu acts as a means of detoxiﬁcation
for a toxic body.
Eat lightly to allow your body to focus on healing, rather than on digestion. During the ﬁrst two to four days, when you are likely to feel the worst, your diet should con- sist mainly of liquids—clean water, hot broths, green drinks, herbal teas, and juices— to ﬂush your body of toxins. If you feel like eating, you should have a variety of fruits, especially citrus and berries. These fruits are high in vitamin C and bioﬂavonoids, which stimulate the production of white blood cells.
After the most acute stage of the illness has passed, continue with the liquids and the fruits but also start eating salads, steamed or lightly cooked vegetables, and whole grains. If you have the stomach for them, nuts are an excellent source of zinc, a min- eral that strengthens the immune system. However, if you still don’t have an appetite, don’t force yourself to eat. Remain on the liquid diet until you’re hungry again.
Warmed applesauce or apple juice is soothing and provides high levels of vitamin C. Make sure the sauce or juice isn’t overheated or boiled, however, or it will lose some of its potency.
Eat lightly. Steamed vegetables, soups, broths, and herbal teas will let your body focus on healing, instead of on digestion. If you lose your appetite, don’t force yourself to eat.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of clean water and other ﬂuids (but see the note about sugar and juice further on) to cleanse away toxins and to keep the respiratory tract from drying out.
Increase your consumption of ginger, onions, and garlic. Try adding one or both to chicken soup or miso.
Hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon is a traditional cold remedy. Drink a cup every two hours to soothe your throat and chest, prevent mucus buildup, and encourage a cleansing sweat.
Food to Avoid
Eliminate dairy and reﬁned sugar products from your diet for the duration of your ill- ness. These foods will only contribute to the formation of mucus and make the virus harder to expel. Sugar also has the extremely undesirable effect of depressing your immune system.
Caffeine depletes the body’s stores of zinc, a mineral necessary for healing. Avoid coffee, black teas, and chocolate until the ﬂu passes.
A bout of inﬂuenza generally forces its sufferer into a detoxiﬁcation program by making it nearly impossible to tolerate food. A liquid and lighter diet, as described earlier, will ﬂush out toxins, especially when combined with some of the detoxify- ing teas listed in the herbal sections.
Lomatium (Lomatium dis- sectum) was a life- saving remedy for Native American Indians living in the Nevada desert dur- ing the Spanish ﬂu epidemic that killed over 500,000 peo- ple in the United States and 22 mil- lion worldwide. A local medical doc- tor noted that Native American Indians were recov- ering from the Spanish ﬂu by ingesting boiled lomatium root. It is believed that phyto- chemicals found in lomatium root inhibit viruses from replicating and stimulate white blood cell activity.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Flu
Super Prescription #1 Homeopathic Combination Flu Remedy
At the ﬁrst signs of a ﬂu, take a dose of the combination ﬂu remedy four times daily for three days. This contains the most common remedies used for the ﬂu. Another alternative is a ﬂu remedy containing Anas barbariae. Then if you notice improve- ment, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. If your symptoms do not improve within twenty-four hours, pick the remedy that best matches your symp- toms under Homeopathy in this section.
Super Prescription #2 Lomatium dissectum
Take 500 mg in capsule form or 2 to 4 ml of the tincture four times daily. Lomatium has strong antiviral effects and has traditionally been used by herbal- ists to treat the ﬂu.
Super Prescription #3 Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Adults should take 1 tablespoon four times daily and children 1 tablespoon twice daily. Elderberry inhibits inﬂuenza viral replication and reduces coughing.
Super Prescription #4 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Echinacea and goldenseal combination: Take 500 mg in capsule form or 2 to 4 ml of tincture four times daily. Both herbs enhance immune function, and echinacea has antiviral properties. Note: If you do not have any mucus production, use only echinacea.
Super Prescription #5 Oregano (Origanum vulgare) oil
Take 500 mg of the capsule form four times daily or as directed on the container. Oregano oil has powerful antiviral effects.
Super Prescription #6 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 to 2,000 mg three to four times daily. Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs. Vitamin C supports immune system function through increased white blood cell activity.
Super Prescription #7 Ginger (Zingiber ofﬁcinale)
Take 500 mg of the capsule form or drink the fresh tea four times daily. Ginger helps with a sore throat and chills.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that people who received elderberry extract (4 tablespoons a day for adults and 2 tablespoons for children) for three days signiﬁcantly improved their ﬂu symptoms. Ninety percent of people taking this herbal extract were com- pletely well in two to three days, as compared to six days for those taking a placebo.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has powerful antiviral and detoxiﬁcation properties. Add it raw to broths, juices, soups, or vegetable dishes. You can also take 300 to 450 mg of garlic in capsules twice a day.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is an excellent treat- ment for preventing the ﬂu. Do not take astragalus if you have a fever. Take 500 to 1,000 mg in capsule form or 3.0 ml of a tinc- ture two to three times daily.
Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract optimizes immune activity. Take 1 to 2 capsules twice daily or as directed on the container.
At the ﬁrst signs of a ﬂu, take 2 pellets of a 30C potency four times daily for three days, of the remedy that best matches your
symptoms in this section. If you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. If your symptoms do not improve within twenty-four hours, pick another remedy.
Aconitum Napellus is for a ﬂu that comes on suddenly after exposure to dry, cold weather. There is a scratchy throat and a thin discharge from the nose. You probably feel anxious, restless, and chilly, with a great thirst. This remedy is best taken within four hours of developing ﬂu symptoms.
Arsenicum Album is for a cold with a ﬂu in which a person feels exhausted, anx- ious, restless, and chilly and is thirsty for sips of warm water. Diarrhea and vomit- ing occur with the ﬂu.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is for the beginning phase of a ﬂu characterized by a high fever that comes on suddenly. The face is ﬂushed and the skin is hot, but the feet are cold. The pupils are dilated. A throbbing headache is common.
Bryonia (Bryonia alba) is for a ﬂu with severe aching of the joints. The person feels worse from the slightest movement and may have a hard, dry cough. There is a great thirst for cold drinks. The person feels very irritable and does not want to move. The joints ache.
Eupatorium Perfolatum is helpful when there is a high fever and tremendous, deep aching of the bones and the muscles. The person has a great thirst for cold drinks.
Ferrum Phosphoricum helps when a person feels feverish but does not act sick. The throat may be sore, and the face is ﬂushed. It’s best used at the onset of a ﬂu.
Gelsemium (Gelsemium sempervirens) is for a cold accompanied by chills and muscle aches. The person feels drowsy and fatigued and has droopy eyelids. There may be a headache at the base of the head.
Mercurius Solubilis or Vivus is helpful when the person is sensitive to both hot and cold temperatures. The tongue has a thick coating, and the person has bad breath, has excessive saliva production, and drools on the pillow. The throat is often raw and sore. Profuse sweating occurs.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for a person who has a digestive upset, such as stomach cramping and nausea, with the ﬂu. There is great chilliness and irritability.
Rhus Toxicodendron is for extreme stiffness in the muscles and the joints that feels better with warm applications and when moving around. It is hard to ﬁnd a comfort- able position, so there is a lot of restlessness.
Sulphur is for the end stages of a long ﬂu. Burning in the lungs may occur, as well as fever and sweating. The person has a great thirst for ice-cold drinks.
• Large Intestine 4, Governing Vessel 24.5, and Gallbladder 16 and 20 all ease headache and head congestion.
• To reduce fever and strengthen the immune system, massage Large Intestine 11.
• Kidney 27 relieves a sore throat and chest congestion.
When most of your symptoms have passed and you’re ready to resume a more nor- mal schedule, an all-over massage will help you make the transition more smoothly.
Massage will break up the remaining toxins, relax muscles that may have tightened, and help you reconnect with your body.
If you have a lingering cough following an episode of the ﬂu, a percussive mas- sage will help break up the mucus. Percussive motions are best used on people who are relatively strong and healthy.
Work the areas corresponding to the chest and the lungs, the intestines, the diaphragm, the lymph system, and all the glands.
Massage the cervicals if your ﬂu is accompanied by a sore throat. For clogged sinuses, work all the toes.
Constitutional hydrotherapy done each day relieves congestion and stimulates the immune system. See pages 676–677 for directions.
Add any of the following oils to baths or steam inhalations.
Tea tree oil has strong infection-ﬁghting properties. Add to a bath, or mix a few drops of the oil with warm water and gargle with it. (Tea tree oil is quite concentrated, so add no more than 2 or 3 drops to a cup of water for gargling.) To prevent the infec- tion from spreading to the rest of your household, use some in diffusers in the com- mon rooms.
Use lavender in any kind of preparation to strengthen your immune system and help you sleep.
Add eucalyptus and peppermint—either alone or in combination—to a bath, in steam, or in an inhalation to relieve congestion.
If chronic stress leaves you constantly vulnerable to the ﬂu and other upper respira- tory infections, take some time out every day to detach yourself from any tension you might be experiencing.
Regular stress-management practice can also help you handle future difﬁcult sit- uations with a calm disposition.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Regular exercise and a positive attitude and mental imagery improve immune func- tion and may help prevent a ﬂu.
Bach Flower Remedies
Once you’ve chosen a remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
When you ﬁrst feel the ﬂu coming on, immediately take a combination of Clema- tis, Crab Apple, Olive, and Walnut to increase your reserves of strength.
If you feel an overwhelming need for comfort, take Chicory, in addition to the four previously mentioned ﬂowers.
• Rest is absolutely critical to the healing process. As soon as you feel the symp- toms strike, get into bed and stay there for several days or even a week, if nec- essary. If you try to exert yourself during a bout of the ﬂu, you may wind up with a secondary infection, such as pneumonia.
• Gargle with warm salt water to reduce sore throat pain.